Though it might feel much too early to start thinking about summer, winter is the perfect time to start searching for and applying to summer programs, internships and jobs.
Having three months away from school affords the perfect opportunity for students to explore interests they may not have the opportunity to learn about in the classroom. Some students take advantage of this time to get a summer job and save money for college, while others seek research or internship opportunities. Between age restrictions, the need for connections, and the lack of an academic foundation needed for college-level research, however, opportunities for high school students can sometimes seem few and far between.
Merit-based programs are ideal opportunities for high school students: many are highly competitive, capable of bolstering students’ college applications when the time comes around, and can demonstrate more academic initiative and rigor than non-merit-based pre-college programs.
What is the difference between merit-based summer programs and pre-college programs?
It’s important to differentiate between prestigious programs and pre-college programs. While merit-based programs are competitive and can either cost tuition, be tuition-free, or pay students a stipend, almost all pre-college programs charge tuition fees.
Pre-college programs are marketed as dreamy initial college experiences to enhance your resume, and every year, thousands of students enroll in pre-college programs all over the world. However, come college application time, “prestigious” pre-college programs only tell admissions officers one thing: that a student’s family is wealthy. What’s most important to understand is that attending such a program will not increase chances of admission, neither to the school the student has attended, nor to a school of a similar caliber.
That being said, there are many benefits to attending pre-college programs. Living on campus in a dorm, making new friends, and attending college-level classes all provide a chance to experience college life. This can help students determine what sorts of colleges they may want to apply to when senior year rolls around.
Merit-Based Summer Programs
On the other hand, merit-based programs span many diverse academic fields, including science research, math and engineering courses, creative writing courses and summer internship placements. Most allow students the opportunity to explore a specialized area of academic interest they may not have the opportunity to explore in high school. Here are six merit-based programs to think about applying to for the summer of 2022:
This summer entrepreneurship program guides high school students through the process of launching a startup, from brainstorming ideas, conducting market research, and designing a product to launching their endeavor. The summer 2022 program will be held both online and in-person at two campuses, one at The Research Triangle and one at the University of Michigan. Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to apply.
The New York Times Summer Academy offers high school students the opportunity to attend two-week courses at the NYC and Washington, DC campuses. Courses are offered in a variety of subjects, including ‘Inside the UN’ and ‘Writing About Youth Culture: Race, Identity & Social Behavior’ at the NYC campus and ‘Political Commentary’ and ‘International Relations & Development’ at the Washington, DC campus. Courses are taught by New York Times journalists and other thought leaders. Four terms will be held in June and July of 2022.
Economics for Leaders welcomes sophomores and juniors to learn “how to employ economic analysis when considering difficult public policy choices.” At the moment, four virtual sessions of Economics for Leaders will be offered in June and July of 2022. Additional sessions will be offered at universities across the country throughout June, July and August of 2022.
The Bank of America Student Leaders Program connects high school juniors and seniors to local nonprofit and charitable organizations for paid summer internships. Students also participate in a national leadership summit in Washington, DC. Students gain both work and life experience.
The Summer Science Program offers high school students the opportunity to partake in hands-on experimental research in astrophysics, genomics and biochemistry. The program is open to juniors and exceptional sophomores who have completed the program’s prerequisites. Six sessions of SSP will be held during the summer of 2022:
- Three in astrophysics at New Mexico Tech, University of Colorado and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Two in biochemistry at Purdue University and Indiana University
- One in genomics at Purdue University
The Kenyon Young Writers workshop is an ideal program for students seeking to develop their writing and critical thinking skills. Both online and residential workshops will be held during the summer of 2022. The residential program will be held at Kenyon College. Students 16 to 18 will be eligible to apply.
If you ARE looking for the perfect virtual pre-college program to attend this summer, here are Command Education’s top recommendations:
UCLA offers a wide variety of courses, from the Applications of Nanoscience Summer Institute and the Digital Filmmaking Summer Institute to the Mock Trial Summer Institute, students have the opportunity to learn about any subject of their interest.
Georgetown will offer one, two and three week Summer Academies during June, July and August of 2022. Some specialized courses include: Community Impact & Leadership, Social Justice & Public Policy, Economics Policy, and Foreign Policy.
Columbia offers a wide range of summer programming for high schools students, from college courses offered on Columbia’s campus through Summer Immersion: New York City to the Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains in Castleton, Vermont, and Columbia Engineering’s High School Coding Academy, which will be offered remotely this summer. All programs are non-credit.
All Harvard pre-college programs will be offered on campus during the summer of 2022. Harvard will be holding three summer sessions between June and August. Students who will graduate high school and enter college in 2023 and 2024 are eligible to apply.
Brown University will be offering both [email protected] on Brown’s campus and [email protected] online during the summer of 2022. Both programs offer students the opportunity to challenge rigorous courses in a variety of subjects, from Reimagining Leadership: Art and Social Change, Global Health: Inequality, Culture and Human Well-Being Around the World to Dynamics of Solar System Formation and Change. Other notable summer programs offered by Brown include the Brown Environmental Leadership Lab, which offers courses in Alaska, the Florida Keys and Rhode Island. The program “combines concepts in environmental studies, ecology, and leadership, with a mission of developing socially responsible leaders.” Brown also offers Location-Based Programs in Segovia, Rome and Washington, DC.
The University of Pennsylvania’s pre-college program will be offered both in-person and remotely during the summer of 2022. Students currently in 10th and 11th grades are eligible to apply and can earn course credit. Courses include Introduction to Sociolinguistics, Gender and Society, Introduction to Biology A and Study of an Author: Shakespeare.
Remember to start early in order to give yourself time to write strong applications, and thus the best chance of attending the program of your choice! There are hundreds and hundreds of opportunities available to you. One of our Senior Mentors here at Command Education can help you to pinpoint the best opportunities that match your specific interests and future college goals. Best of luck on your applications!